There is so much of the bible I just don’t understand. Admittedly when I come across a passage, a chapter, a verse that I simply can’t fathom, I just move on.
A couple of days ago I read through 1 Kings 19 and it left me totally bewildered. But this time, I didn’t move on. I stayed put until I thought I understood and “lo and behold” it was a message I definitely needed to hear.
Here is what happens leading up to 1 Kings 19. Jezebel, perhaps the wickedest of all women throughout history, had tried to kill off all the prophets of God. Fortunately, there was a servant in charge of the King (Ahab at that time–also incredibly wicked) who had the foresight to hide 100 of God’s prophets in a cave and supply them with food and water.
At that time, Elijah, for lack of a better term, is “the greatest of all prophets.” I don’t know if Elijah joined the others in the cave or if he simply outwitted the pursuers Jezebel set after the prophets but he was alive and busily at work prophesying after the wicked lady’s edict. But I digress . . .
We’re still before 1 Kings 19. Elijah meets King Ahab and tells him to assemble all Israel at Mount Carmel where he will publicly challenge the 450 prophets of Baal (a wicked pretend god) and 400 prophets of Asherah, whom Elijah refers to as the whore goddess (also wicked and pretend).
Read 1 Kings 18 for the details, as it’s great reading, entertaining, and shows God to be the only true God in a very dramatic and supernatural way. Here’s a spoiler, but the 450 prophets of Baal end up being massacred by the crowed.
I’m telling this a little disjointedly, but also in 1 Kings 18, there is a time of terrible, terrible drought. I’m no theologian, but I understand the connecting cause to be the fact that the prophets of Baal are running the joint under the direction of wicked King Ahab whose strings are being pulled by excessively wicked Jezebel, and the One True God is withholding the rain as punishment.
Forward to 1 Kings 19 – Ahab reports the incredible interaction between Elijah and the prophets to Jezebel. (Hmmm, a king reporting to a rich, evil woman . . . something is rotten in Denmark–I mean Israel.) Jezebel reacts as she always does when she doesn’t get her way. Quite simply, she kills what she doesn’t like. She sends a messenger to Elijah to let him know he will be dead by the next day.
Keep in mind that at the end of 1 Kings 18, it rained. It rained like crazy. It rained until the parched moisture-deprived ground sang for joy.
I’m pretty sure Jezebel desired the rain as much as any person in the land. But she desired having her way more. So even though Elijah’s obedience to God was responsible for bringing the rain, she couldn’t get past the fact that her pretend gods didn’t win. And she plotted Elijah’s immediate death.
We’re finally to the part of this post that I started with. Thanks for hanging with me.
Elijah “ran for dear life” according to the Message version of the bible. He collapsed (he’s pretty old by now) under a bush and told God he’d had enough and wanted to die. Who could blame the guy? He took on hundreds of evil folk the day before, stood up ALONE for God, was obedient in a tough situation, and is going to be rewarded with imminent (and likely painful) death. After he’s done telling God how he feels, he falls asleep.
“Suddenly” an angel shakes him awake and says, “Get up and eat.” I imagine Elijah was in a state similar to when I crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and don’t want to be disturbed by anyone. I wonder if his initial reaction was irritation or if the surprise of being woken by an angel overshadows any thoughts of sleeping. Anyway, he wakes to find a loaf of baked bread and jug of water. We are told he eats the meal and goes back to sleep.
The angel comes back and the sequence is repeated. Only this time the angel tells Elijah he has to eat more because he has a long journey ahead of him. Elijah eats again, drinks his fill, and sets out on a 40-day journey. Forty days! By foot!
Huh again? This is normally where I would just look for something else to read.
But this time I didn’t. I stayed in that chapter. And I prayed. And I asked God to give me understanding. I told him I’m really trying to figure out what he’s telling me, that I didn’t understand this and I sincerely wanted to.
It wasn’t long before all the pieces came into my head, and here is what I received: God had (lots more) work for Elijah to do. And he wasn’t going to send Elijah out without provision. He allowed him to sleep (twice) and fed him (twice) before sending him out.
You may be thinking, Jeez Cindy, that isn’t much of a revelation. It’s pretty obvious. But it wasn’t obvious to me. Especially because I am in a season of trusting in God’s provision and direction myself. Sometimes what we need the most is the hardest to see. So I didn’t recognize what was right in front of my eyes. God PROVIDED for Elijah. He provided rest–certainly much needed after a day of supernatural display, praying for rain, and slaying wicked prophets who served a pretend God. He provided meals. In the middle of the desert, baked bread and water appeared. They were necessary to allow the old prophet to make the lengthy journey that God required.
And perhaps the most personal of all, he wakes to the angel’s touch. That has to be restorative and healing.
Take what you need from 1 Kings 18 and 19. What I’ve received from it is that no matter what we have going on and no matter what is coming our way, God is there for us in a BIG way. He is there to provide for our needs and bring spiritual healing. We are not alone no matter how long or daunting the journey.
Blessings – Cindy